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HuangKaiVun

Ida Haendel at Tanglewood, July 27 2000

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quote:

Originally posted by HuangKaiVun:

I have never heard Haendel play, so this'll be interesting.

I'll be in the lawn seats.

I'd be interested to hear how she makes out.

I heard her play in Montreal about 20 years ago. She was called the last minute to replace someone who couldn't show for a concert (she was living in Montreal). If I recall she played some Brahms. At the time she looked to be in her 50s so she must be in her 70s now?

I thought she played warmly, with solid technique, good intonation and much conviction.

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HKV: Hope you will have a great time! Please let us know how she played.

Maestro: Ida Haendel studied with Heifetz???? I have never heard of that one. Where in the earth did you get the information?

As far as I know, she studied with Michalowicz, Flesch, Enescu and some coaching from Szigeti, but Heifetz' name was not mentioned. Did she had some "coaching" after she became an adult? I don't think she could have studied with Heifetz when she was growing up, because geographically it would have not been possible (Heifetz was mostly in the U.S. with occasional visit to Europe, whereas Haendel was mainly in Germany and France).

And I don't buy the fact that she does not practice scales. I am sure she must have done them at one point, because her technique is rock-solid at the point of her most recent CD release (Bartok and Enescu with Ashkenazy).

By the way, her recent Decca recording with Ashkenazy was wonderful. Their Enescu third sonata (one of my favorite 20th century piece!) had enormous vitality and fire, supported by undiminished technical mastery. The recording balance is not perfect. A bit too much piano, but otherwise quite fine.

Toscha

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I think I read it in the strad a few years ago. I guess the reason I remebered it was because, apparently, if you went to Heifetz for coaching, he would ask you to play scales in 4 octaves, and she claimed that Heifetz was amased that she didn't practise scales.

Who knows, a lot of these could well be made up!

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This night, the small hall (~500 seats) was mostly filled with ~40 people in the lawn.

I had brought a fellow violin aficionado, two lawn seats, a raincoat (sky was gloomy and cold), and a Burger King double Whopper special (missed my onion rings and gave me fries instead frown.gif)

Haendel appeared with her recital partner, Itmar Golan. She appears to be no taller than 5 feet tall, though the distance may have been confounding. Haendel wore a frilly green dress that was made her clearly visible for those sitting in the green seats. Her overall demeanor was smiling and stately. Overall, she looked like this: laugh.gif

She launched into Brahms' 3rd sonata. The instant she set her bow to the string, I said to my friend "Her violin needs adjustment". Haendel's bowing is nonelliptical (flat, uses most of the hair) and her vibrato is in the Heifetz/Ricci mold. Her overall timbre is that of a slightly forced soprano, but not that of a "modern" violinist.

She and Golan had trouble finding each other in the Brahms. Both indulge in rhythmic liberties that caused them to lose each other. This occurred throughout the night. Overall, the Brahms was well played violinistically but lacked the final level of rhythm that makes for great Brahms performances.

Then Haendel played the Bach Chaconne. It took her a while to "feel her way around", though she played with perfect technique. At one point, she suddenly became "Haendel" and played with total rhythm and verve. She hit a low piannissimo that took the audience's breath away. This rhythmic pulsatile greatness lasted for a brief but not inconsequential stretch. It eventually went away, but the audience noticed - and gave her a standing ovation afterwards. The Chaconne was the highlight of the night.

She reappeared after intermission to play Chausson's Poeme. Golan's style did not suit this piece, and he played it with a frilly style. This contrasted violently against Haendels' harder tone, though the technique by both was impeccable. The audience sensed that something was amiss, and the response was muted.

Szymanowski's "Le Fountain d'Arethuse" was next. Though the playing was technically perfect and flighty, the piece itself did not hold the audience's attention . . . nor their applause.

Wieniawski's Polonaise in D finished the program. Golan was miscast in this piece, taking way too many rhythmic liberties and not really understanding what "Polonaise" means. Haendel was only marginally less twisted. Though all was there technically, the audience did not regale her with full approval afterwards.

Haendel played three encores: a Dvorak Serenade, a solo arrangement of a Czech? sonata, and an Enesco-influenced piece. The middle piece (no Golan) was the most effective, and the audience stomped its approval. The Serenade was a bit too hard, and the audience didn't really breath with her. The Enesco was too abrasive and lacked Rumanian humor/softness, and thus the audience walked off without really cheering.

Overall, the playing was extremely technically competent and refreshingly honest. Personally, I wished that Haendel vibrated a little less and played more "straight", but she's still "Haendel": one of the greatest violinists ever to play the instrument.

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"...the audience did not regale her with full approval afterwards" -- but she was brought back for three encores? I don't get it. Perhaps you are not speaking for the entire audience, Huang?

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I have experienced this same phenomenom that Huang may have faced yesterday. While I lived in New York, I noticed that the audience knew how to get an encore (i.e. sustain the applause long enough), something they have not learned in Texas. The audience likes encores, it's a bonus, and often they are played better than the programmed works, so even if the concert was mediocre, the audience still wants the encores.

I have seen many concerts like this where the audience response was lukewarm, but the polite applause was sustained long enough to secure an encore.

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quote:

Originally posted by River:

Mr. HKV,

Couldn't help but smile when I saw the Mr.

Anyway, Huang: You sound more like a harsh musical critic than just a music lover. It's fine to point out what was wrong with a performance, but I hope you also took the time to just relax and enjoy the music.

I'd hate to think that the only way for you to enjoy a concert is for Aaron Rosand to be playing opposite Ivry Gitlis.

DM

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I'm a music lover, which makes me a TOUGH violin critic.

If Haendel had played everything out of tune and sloppily but remained true to the SPIRIT of the music (Brahms sounds different from Bach which sounds different from Chausson), I would've cheered lustily and stomped my approval - as the audience would've and DID in the Chaconne.

Music > technique.

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